Rob Ryan said that when he arrived last season the Dallas Cowboys defense was beaten down.
“Those guys had been beaten down so much that, in my opinion, I don’t think they had the confidence to go forward,” Ryan said, via Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
Therefore Ryan’s approach was to try to build their confidence through talk and Ryan did plenty talking last year often sounding like a pro wrestler. Telling anyone who would listen how good they would be, however it just didn’t work. In fact the more Ryan flapped his gums, the more fans knew we were really in trouble.
I get why Ryan attempted to “talk them up”. The defense had a bad year in 2010 and they knew they stunk so what would it help to tell them “you stink”? But at the same time what good does it do to tell them “you’re great” when they realized they weren’t that either? Then you risk losing credibility and it’s a hard sale too. Talk is cheap.
A quote from the movie “Moneyball” comes to mind,
“He’s got to become successful to become confident. Once he becomes confident, that’s when you’ve got something.”
And one from Cowboys legendary QB Roger Staubach, “Confidence doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s a result of something… hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.”
No quick fixes to be found.
Coach Ryan would best serve his defense by putting players in situations where they can succeed. That means asking them to do what they are capable of and holding them accountable for that and not asking them to be what they are not. Know their strengths and limitations.
Once his defense has success they will develop a confidence that is genuine and not phony. Phony confidence will crumble quickly when faced with adversity, and that’s what happened too often last year.
Successfully addressing some of the secondary issues in the off season should help restore a confidence that has been lacking on the defense. And that new earned confidence will provide a foundation for the defense to keep competing when things get tough. Then, and only then, will you have something.